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Recent Research Projects

How did sources of information predict public health behaviours during the pandemic?


In a rapidly developing crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, people are often faced with contradictory or changing information and must determine what sources to trust. Using data from five timepoints in the pandemic, we examined how trust in various sources of information predicted whether people took precautions against COVID-19.

Across time points, people who trusted medical experts were more likely to physically distance and get vaccinated, while people who trusted Fox News were less likely to take these precautions. The pattern for masks, however, showed a shift over time.

Early in the pandemic, people with more trust in medical experts were less likely to wear masks,

while those with more trust in Fox News were more likely. However, on the evening of April 3, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made an announcement to recommend mask-wearing. In the days following, the relationships between trust and mask-wearing disappeared. By 2021 and 2022, those who trusted experts more were more likely to wear masks, while those who trusted Fox News more were less likely. This reversal suggests that divisions between political parties and informational ecosystems took time to develop over the course of the pandemic.

This study was presented as a poster, entitled Truth, Trust, and Scientific Uncertainty: Examining Trust in Experts, Mainstream and Counter-Mainstream Media Across the Pandemic, at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Click here to view the poster!

How do social media users judge others' past mistakes?

Although people often forgive and forget long-past interpersonal wrongdoings, when moral offenses are captured online, they can re-emerge to new outrage even years later. Do people consider evidence of personal growth when judging a public figure whose long-past offense resurfaces online? If so, does the type of growth (public or private) and its timing (before or after the offense resurfaced) influence these judgements? In three studies, we asked participants to read about a past misdeed (either racist tweets or a DUI charge) committed by a public figure. Some participants were then presented with evidence of the figure’s personal growth since the misdeed. Then, all participants answered questions about their judgements of the figure and


their actions. Overall, Democrats were more offended by racist tweets than Republicans, but these differences weren’t as consistent in judgements of the DUI charge. Furthermore, evidence of growth after the offense resurfaced (vs no-evidence of growth) reduced the harshness of current judgments of the offender; public and private growth were equally effective. Private growth was valued more than public, but only when it occurred before the misdeed came to light.

This project was conducted in part as an Honour's thesis by Gillian Sherman. Gillian presented the study as a poster, entitled Ghosts of Tweets Past: Personal Growth and Judgements of Long-Past Offensive Tweets, at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. 


Click here to view the poster!

How did people experience time and well-being during COVID-19?


When COVID-19 hit, many people felt time stop. Or speed up. Or become hazy, repetitive, paradoxical, or a little bit of everything! In this study, we asked participants to reflect on their experience of time at the first and second anniversaries of the COVID-19 pandemic (i.e., March 11th, 2021, and March 11th, 2022, respectively). We included measures of subjective duration (how fast or slow time seems to be moving), subjective distance (how close or far an event feels in the past/future), time emptiness (the feeling of having too much time) and time urgency (the feeling of having not enough time). We also asked participants about how they were filling their time, and about their well-being over the course of the pandemic. Overall, participants felt that time passed very slowly in the first year of the pandemic (2020-2021) compared to the year before (2019-2020) or the year after (2021-2022). Participants who felt like they had too much time on their hands (time emptiness) reported lower well-being; however, investing time in therapeutic activities such as physical activity, recreation and hobbies, and even socializing remotely (over Zoom, social media, etc.) can reduce time emptiness to give well-being a boost. 

This study was presented as a poster, entitled Like Molasses in an Hourglass: A Mixed Methods Study of Subjective Time and Well-Being over Two Years of the COVID-19 Pandemic, at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. 


Click here to view the poster!

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